Creating art on the road, runner designs images while pounding the pavement

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Lenny Maughan has drawn a taco, a pig, the Starship Enterprise, the state of California and artist Frida Kahlo just by putting one foot in front of the other. 

But it's not as simple as it sounds. 

Here's how it works: the San Francisco distance runner first plots out his desired design on a paper map. Then he records the route using the fitness app Strava while running. If all goes as planned, the desired design will be complete when the run is done. 

"I need to be really be focused on it and I can't make a wrong turn, I can't zone out,'' said Maughan, adding that he sometimes visualizes, while running, where he might be on a specific piece. 

"I'm just conscious of where I am on the shape.  The eye, the smile, the elbow, the left thumb, the bird's beak, the handle of a beer stein, the curvature of a stiletto,'' he said. "It's just nice to focus on where I am in the 'big picture' and to fine-tune the sculpting." 

One of his most recent pieces, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's image took him just over six hours and nearly 29 miles to complete. 

But that wasn't the longest run he did in the name of art.

A piece he calls "runner" of a well, runner, was created over the course of about 43 miles and more than 4,100 feet of elevation change.

"That's like running up and down the Sales Force Tower four times,'' Maughan said. 

He said his shortest run, less than one mile, turned out an image of a piece of pizza on a Strava map.

The 58-year-old Maughan has lived and run in San Francisco for more than 20 years and sometimes he creates images that are reflective of the region.

There's Grateful Dead guitarist's Jerry Garcia's hand, missing part of the middle finger, and a firefighter's helmet and axe, to honor the first responders of the wildfires.

"I always do this in San Francisco so the streets are my canvas, but there are some constraints," such as the time he tried to draw a hair pic.

"I have naturally curly hair and I wanted to do a (pic) but I couldn't find a way to do it without interrupting the (comb's) tines,'' he said. 

Then there was the time he set out to do a simple spiral image and wound up creating a picture of a television. 

"At one point on the outer edges of the spiral went too far, but I turned the mistake into (an image of a) television,'' he said. 

It's not just runners who are creating art while out on the road.  

Jon Blaze, a cyclist in Texas, recently asked his girlfriend to marry him after guiding her on a 15.7-mile bike route through the Houston area. At the end of the ride, he showed her the map that, thanks many turns, had spelled out the words "marry me." 
"So I went on a bike ride with my girlfriend and showed her a nice surprise at the end of our ride," Blaze wrote on Reddit. "She said YES!"

His girlfriend, Thau Nguyen, said enduring the twists and turns on the bike ride was worth it in the end. 

"I went from being so annoyed by all the crazy turns we did to being completely shocked and with the biggest smile on my face," Nguyen said.